A major press conference was held May 3 for Howard Morgan, the retired Chicago police officer and railroad detective who was shot 25 times by police on Feb. 21. Organizers announced a 3-day moral and ethical movement for May 17, 18 and 19, asking that everyone redirect their lottery funds to Howard Morgan on these three days.
The press conference was held at Wallace Catfish Restaurant, 2800 W. Madison. Proprietor Wallace Davis knows all too well what it’s like to be a victim of police brutality. In the mid 1970s Mr. Davis was shot several times in the back by police. On March 8, 1976, Davis and a friend subdued two men who were trying to rob his place of business. When police finally answered his call for help, he instead became the victim. Davis went to battle against the Chicago Police Department and subsequently became a Westside alderman. Today, he owns and operates one of the Westside’s finest eateries.
Wallace Davis told the Morgan family, “I am reminded that 29 years ago, I was the same victim of the same brutality. A businessman, shot in the back with a .357 Magnum, and police saying, ‘Die, Nigger, die.’ In the hospital, tubes running out of my body, shackled to the bed like a animal. Only to come back to tell the story and thank God almighty for brother Morgan to keep faith and keep the strength. The story’s got to be told. We need to hold our elected officials and leaders accountable. Don’t let them off the hook. Pressure and justice must apply. Sister Morgan, justice is on its way, I’m here to tell you. Justice is on its way.”
Following are excerpts of the prepared statement by family friend and spokesperson Rev. Paul Jakes Jr.: “Racialism is the most ignorant concept and destructive malady ever invented by man as a tool of castigation. Again, Chicago is faced with the perpetual and blatant legacy of police excessive use of force in the shooting of Howard Morgan. One of the more disturbing aspects of this phenomenon is the hatred of African-American police officers by white police officers. It is as though they are saying that only people with distinctive European ancestry are genetically equipped to become protectors of civil liberties, and that all others are, by heredity, deficient of said ability.
“We are once again calling for the U.S. Attorney to investigate this massacre for several reasons. First, this is a continuation of a pattern, and not an isolated incident. Secondly, African-American police officers should not be subjected to the possibility of harm at the hands of their FOP brothers and sisters. Thirdly, genocide (Nazism) is not acceptable at any time, or from anyone!
“This appears to be why it was so easy for Chicago police officers to shoot retired Chicago Police Officer Howard Morgan, who currently serves as a police officer for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, not once, but 25 times. The miracle is that he has not (by the grace of God) died from this massacre. What human being is so bad that the police have to shoot him that many times? State’s Attorney Dick Devine, we call on you to drop the charges on human-being Howard Morgan or at least agree to a lesser bail amount.”
(Morgan is being held on $2 million bail?”$250,000 is needed to take the shackles off his leg.)
The three “Days of Dignity” dates were chosen because May 17 is the historic 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision anniversary, and also in honor of Malcolm X’s birthday (May 10, 1925).
Attorney Leo Holt said: “On Friday (April 29) I filed in the Appellate Court Mr. Morgan’s motion to review his bail. We are hoping the Appellate Court will review the $2 million bail set on Mr. Morgan as being outrageous, given Mr. Morgan’s background. Mr. Morgan is a man who has done everything right in his life. There is no blemish in his background whatsoever. He’s raised a family, has two lovely daughters, a lovely wife; he’s a God-fearing church going man. I don’t know how much more a person could do to show that he is eligible for bail, particularly in view of the fact that the judge correctly found that Mr. Morgan did not present a danger to anyone. So the only justification for his bail is that he’s involved in a case involving police officers. And it is an outrageous denial of the “presumption of innocence” to set bail on a man who is substantially injured at $2 million. It’s an insult to the concept of the constitutional right to reasonable bail. For those reasons, we’re hoping the Appellate Court will recognize that our community is outraged by such a bail, and do something to correct it.
“Because of the varying and different positions that I have been receiving from the police department, particularly at the press conference at the inception of this case, it is our considered judgment that Mr. Morgan’s version of this event should be told one time, and one time only. And that is before the jury when this case goes to trial.”
AWN: “I heard in a radio interview (WVON) state that Mr. Morgan shot at police 17 times. How does he know this, especially if an investigation is ongoing?
Holt: “You’ll have to ask the police how they know that. I’ve no idea how they know that.
“I can give you the version the police said. Mr. Morgan was stopped for a minor traffic violation, going the wrong way on a one-way street and got out of his car firing at the police officers.”
Mrs. Rosalind Morgan updated her husband’s condition: “He has an infection in his left leg. He has several rods and pins in the leg. His mobility is nil. He cannot walk, and he is trying to hold on to what he knows is his freedom. It is only by the grace of God that he is alive. I’m doing as well as can be expected. Because of the prayers of so many of the supporters. I’d like to thank all of you for being here. My husband and I feel ‘an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.’ This is global. This is not because it happened on 19th & Lawndale. This was an action that was totally unnecessary. My husband is a licensed police officer, eight years retired from the Chicago Police Dept. He is still employed at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. This man is a wonderful individual. We cannot allow this to happen to anyone, and please, I ask you, the donations are to help free my husband from this atrocity that has happen.
“We have two daughters and two granddaughters. They would like to see him like they used to. This cannot be if he is continued to be shackled to the bed. When we visit him, we are supervised all of the time. So I cannot touch him. I’m instructed that I can see him but I cannot touch him. I can pass nothing to him, and he can pass nothing to me. So even while lying there, I cannot comfort him in any way physically, other than words. So I’m asking you (all over the world) to help with this Howard Morgan Defense Fund.
AWN: “Is the Burlington Railroad in touch with you, are they supporting your efforts, especially your financial efforts, and I heard Rev. Jackson talk about bullet wounds in his back?
Morgan: “In answer to your first question, yes, the Burlington Railroad is supporting my husband. They have been out to see him. Some of the police officers that he works with have been there to see him. In answer to your second question, my husband was shot in the back part of his body. He was shot in the front and multiple times in the back part of his body.”
Afro-American Police League’s Pat Hill stated, “As a person who has taken on the responsibility to uphold the law and as I can recall reading the Constitution and other legislative works, I thought lynching was illegal in this country. That was attempted on this man; that was a 21st century lynching.
“This police officer, a trained police officer?”he has taken firearms training, not just with the Chicago Police Dept. but the Burlington Railroad police dept?”to get off 17 shots? There are no holes in anyone else. There are no holes in any cars, or buildings or surrounding areas. My understanding is that there are 18 open wounds in the rear part of Mr. Morgan’s body. Every police officer who was involved was white, the judge was white. Now I know someone is going to say, ‘Oh you’re playing the race-card.’ If you stop practicing racism we will stop bringing it up.
“There are 3,000 African-American police officers in Chicago. And although you don’t see them, they all have families, they all have beliefs and they all have been victims of this racist system. And they are very upset and embarrassed. They’re embarrassed because it happened in their community. They’re embarrassed because we’ve had African-American so-called law enforcement leadership that has not stood on their behalf.”
Rev. Marshall Hatch, speaking on behalf of Rainbow PUSH and Rev. Jackson, said, “We already have an uphill climb trying to teach young people respect for the law. It makes that much more difficult in our community when the law is violated by officers sworn to uphold the law. It makes our job much more difficult. The truth of the matter is, if this kind of public attempt of execution can be attempted on Howard Morgan, then none of us are safe from this form of police brutality.”
May 19 there will be a mass rally regarding the Lottery at Old St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, 531 N. Kedzie, at 7 p.m.
May 20 is the next court date at 26th & California. Organizers want supporters to meet at 9 a.m. on the courthouse steps and march in together.
If you would like to contribute, make checks
Howard Morgan Defense Fund
c/o Pullman Bank, 815 W. 63rd. Street
or P.O. Box 368817
Chicago, Ill. 60636